[Link to TaleSpin]
The sky was dark and there was hope. Five hundred and one eyes looked up as the sun was swallowed by a grey behemoth of dust and vapour. The cats all ran inside and hid under the wooden beds. The lizards licked their lips as they cowered under their favourite rocks. The crickets stopped chirping, deepening the silence that had engulfed the little village of Van-Buh. The villagers had lost their ability to speak, even the toddlers had forgotten to cry. All eyes were transfixed at the sombre sky. Old hands were locked in prayer, and young hands were cupped with cheer. The clouds above were twisting and fuming, rising and bellowing. A streak of light tore across the sky followed by a terrible roar. The roar enforced by the silence of Van-Buh, resonated in the empty pots and echoed in the modest halls devoid of the luxuries that civilization forgot to bestow upon Van-Buh. It even penetrated in the thick rotting skulls of the founders of Van-Buh who had in the arrogance of youth decided to inhabit that arid piece of land and were now buried peacefully under six feet of dust. Riza-el the self-proclaimed spiritual and political leader of five feet two inches was rolling in his grave, ecstatic. He could not think of a more jubilant way to celebrate given the tight confines of his entombment. After all, his prediction was going to come true, just a hundred years late.
Children of Van-Buh did not know that water could fall out of the sky. They perceived rain as fantastical as candy falling out of the sky. Also they knew that water was salty and this sweet colourless liquid falling out down from heavens is surely some new liquid candy or honey. The men of Van-Buh encouraged by the scientific temperament of the times dismissed it as some gypsy trick. The grandmothers thought it is indeed Amzwitz, the drink of gods which one of the Oshiras might have accidently tipped over during their eternal struggle in the skies. Ziba was scandalized at this. He had made a small fortune selling sweetened water called Honey, which he made by making bees drink sugar water and then collecting the vomit. The process was painful and the yield was very low. Both his hands were covered with excruciating red warts. He was annoyed that gods were squandering away their elixir, but he held back his rancor in fear of backlash from the Oshiras. His enterprising wife however collected all vessels she could find and left it on their roof.
The inhabitants of Van-Buh knew that water came from under the ground. They knew for a fact . They had been told that a 100 feet long crocodile was trapped underground, crying all the time because the fire ants kept biting it. “That is why the water is so salty and there is so less of it”, the grandmothers used to tell. The story goes that the crocodile had been imprisoned there by the chivalrous founders of Van-Buh who had lured the beast into a giant hole that took 10 years to dig. As the crocodile was trying to climb out, thousands of red ants covered the crocodile’s giant body and began biting it. Withering in pain, the crocodile started crying. Water started collecting in the crater and all the withering caused the earth to shake. Dirt fell from all sides entombing the poor crocodile. Between sobs the crocodile vowed that one day it shall dig out from its subterranean prison and kill all living descendants of Van-Buh and drink their bloods just as they enjoyed its tears. The wrath of the crocodile can be still felt today in the form of earthquakes which are caused when the mighty crocodile tries to wriggle the ants off its body. That is why they never dug anything deeper than six feet deep and 1.5 feet wide (much to the anguish of Riza-el) in fear of releasing the choleric crocodile.
One eyed Jaku smiled as he tasted rain on his lips. For seven years seven months seventy seven days seven hours seven minutes and seventeen seconds he had prayed to Shango. At least, that’s what Shango thought as he tore out of the earth, breathing fire out of half a dozen nostrils and spewing ash out of his ears located on either side of his six heads.
While, Jaku was beaming.
“This might just be the greatest prank I ever pulled”, mused Jaku. No, this is the greatest prank anyone ever pulled. They will erect me a shrine as big as Riza-el”
Shango stared at this one eyed monkey with utmost curiosity.
“Is this it? I’m going back to sleep” yawned the first head.
“I show up after a thousand year and this is how they summon me,” added the second head.
“Maybe the Oshiras were pulling my leg when they said that I was summoned but I did feel the divine tug or maybe that was Oba…” mused the third.
“Why is he smiling like an idiot,” the fourth observed.
“These monkeys of today have become too indignant, let’s set an example of him” answered the fifth.
“I’m hungry. Let’s cook him!” suggested the smallest head.
Jaku stared at Shango’s six heads. Shango’s five heads stared at Jaku (the first one had dozed off).
“So?” Asked head number two.
“Why did you summon me”
“I don’t know”.
“What do you mean you don’t know. You’ve been at it for seven years. Surely there was purpose”, head number three chipped in.
“Not that I can think of. Sorry”
“Such insolence. I’m SHANGO. ” Smoke blew out of the fifth’s nostrils.
“Apologies O great one. But I didn’t really summon you. I was just trying to set a world record in tap foot dancing”
“A world record? But then where are the judges?”
“You know. There is a committee. Judges. Official people.”
“Yeah, well. I can grant you a boon if you want.”
“Can’t think of anything I’d want”
“Really? What about your eye”
“No, I like my eye-patch. Makes me feel like a pirate”
With a disgusted groan, Shango muttered a spell and the earth swallowed him back. Meanwhile, Jaku was bursting with laughter. He had managed to trick Shango into bringing rain to Van-Buh.